Mueller Spells Out Trump’s ‘Multiple Acts’ To Undermine Russia Probe

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Above Photo: Donald Trump Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

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Robert Mueller delivered an exhaustive account of President Donald Trump’s efforts to head off or undermine the special counsel’s Russia probe, all but inviting Congress to take action on at least 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice.

“We concluded that Congress has authority to prohibit a president’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” he said in his report sent to Congress on Thursday.

[Related: ‘Oh My God…I’m F—ed’: Trump Called Mueller Appointment the ‘End of My Presidency’]

While Mueller didn’t find an “underlying crime” by Trump related to Russian interference in the 2016 election, he said acts of possible obstruction include “discouragement of cooperation with the government and suggestions of possible future pardons.”

The 448-page report summarizing Mueller’s 22-month investigation cited actions including Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and efforts to have former Attorney General Jeff Sessions take control of the investigation.

[Related: ‘No Recollection’: What Trump Said in His Written Answers to Mueller]

“Our investigation found multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russia-interference and obstruction investigations,” according to the report. “The president engaged in a series of targeted efforts to control the investigation.”

The damning assessment was at odds with comments by Attorney General William Barr, who said in a news conference that he found Trump had “non-corrupt motives.” After Barr spoke, Trump quickly tweeted, “Game Over.”

‘Good Day’

Trump said at the White House Thursday morning that he’s “having a good day.” In a tweet late in the day, Trump scoffed at the notion he obstructed justice.

“I had the right to end the whole Witch Hunt if I wanted. I could have fired everyone, including Mueller, if I wanted,” the president said. “I chose not to. I had the RIGHT to use Executive Privilege. I didn’t!”

In a statement, Trump’s lawyers declared “total victory for the president. The report underscores what we have argued from the very beginning: There was no collusion– there was no obstruction.”

But Mueller’s report raises new questions about whether House Democrats will intensify their investigative efforts — and perhaps move toward an impeachment inquiry despite earlier statements by leaders to the contrary.

Read the full Mueller report

In written answers to Mueller, Trump — who declined repeated requests for an in-person interview — said that he had “no recollection of learning at the time” that his top campaign officials met with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, after being promised dirt on Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Further, the president said, “I have no recollection of being told during the campaign that any foreign government or foreign leader had provided, or wished to provide, or offered to provide tangible support to my campaign.”

Trump directed his staff not to disclose information about the Trump Tower meeting that included Donald Trump Jr.; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law; and campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Mueller’s report said that he considered the Trump Tower meeting to be a “prosecutable” violation of campaign finance laws, but he decided the evidence was “not sufficient” to charge as a criminal violation.

Didn’t Recall

In the written answers, Trump on more than 30 occasions said he didn’t remember or didn’t have “independent recollection” in response to questions. The special counsel said investigators viewed Trump’s answers to be “inadequate.”

On the underlying issue of whether Trump or those around him conspired with Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Mueller said “the evidence we obtained did not establish that the president was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.”

Democrats have demanded Mueller’s full report — without redactions made by Barr — as well as all the evidence behind it. Objecting to Barr’s news conference in advance of the report’s release, they demanded that Mueller testify to Congress as soon as possible. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff invited Mueller to testify, and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said he will subpoena the full Mueller report and supporting materials.

Nadler, whose committee would conduct any impeachment inquiry, said in a statement that the report “outlines disturbing evidence that President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice.”

“The special counsel made clear that he did not exonerate the president,” Nadler said. “The responsibility now falls to Congress to hold the president accountable for his actions.”

Firing Comey

The voluminous report touched on several well-known incidents, including Trump’s firing of Comey in May 2017.

Mueller said the White House wanted to put out a statement saying the firing was the idea of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. But Rosenstein told other Justice Department officials that he wouldn’t participate in putting out a “false story,” according to the report.

Still, Mueller said, “The evidence does not establish that the termination of Comey was designed to cover up a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

When Trump first learned of Mueller’s appointment, according to the report, he slumped back in his chair and said, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f—ed.”

Here Are the Top Takeaways From Mueller’s Report on His Trump Probe

Mueller also discussed efforts by Trump to have him fired.

Former White House Counsel Don McGahn said he resigned after Trump directed him to tell Rosenstein that “Mueller has to go,” according to the report. McGahn spoke to the president twice, making it unlikely that he misunderstood Trump’s request, it said.

“In response to that request, McGahn decided to quit because he did not want to participate in events that he described as akin to the Saturday Night Massacre” during Richard Nixon’s administration, the report said.

Trump made “repeated efforts” to have McGahn deny that he had directed him to fire Mueller, suggesting Trump was aware that his directive could be seen as improper, the report said. McGahn resigned in October of last year.

“The president’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the president declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests,” the report concluded.

Even though Mueller didn’t find an “underlying crime” by Trump related to Russia, the report said, “The injury to the integrity of the justice system is the same regardless of whether a person committed an underlying wrong.”

Withholding Material

Barr had said he would withhold material in the report that touched on classified information and grand jury proceedings or could damage the reputations of people “peripheral” to the investigation, and the report had color-coded sections reflecting each category of deletion. He said Thursday that he will give leaders of several congressional committees a version of the report with no redactions except those relating to grand jury information.

The House Judiciary Committee voted on April 3 to authorize a subpoena to demand that Barr provide that the full report and supporting evidence. If no accord is reached between the lawmakers and the attorney general, a subpoena could result in a legal clash that could reach the Supreme Court.

“The Constitution charges Congress with holding the president accountable for alleged official misconduct,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler has said. “Congress is entitled to all of the evidence.”

Mueller submitted his final report to Barr on March 22, concluding a 22-month investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Barr released his four-page summary of the report on March 24.

Barr went beyond what’s required under Justice Department regulations by sharing any of the report. The regulations require only that he inform Congress if the special counsel was prevented from taking a significant action. Barr has said there was no such situation.

  • Infarction

    Must of the nation’s populations have enough awareness of their surroundings to determine that Donald Trump is a con artist who slithered his way into the Oval Office by lies and trickery. These are his stock and trade.

    But unfortunately, the Democratic Party’s candidate in 2016 Hillary Clinton ran such a poorly designed and uninspired campaign that she lost the Electoral College vote and thus the presidency to a buffoonish talk-show host and real estate swindler.

    Instead of taking the years between 2016 and 2020, she and the Democratic Party leadership refused to take even the most cursory internal inventory on why voters selected Donald Trump. They ignored the truth that voters were (and still are) disgusted with the incrementalism, status quo and outright betrayal of the working class by Barack Obama and his darling, Hillary Clinton.

    The Democrats compounded their problems by putting their entire energy into the hope that a Republican special prosecutor, Robert Mueller would save their bacon by issuing a damning report that would result in the president being frog-marched out of the White House in chains. Alas, it didn’t turn out as their fantasies imagined, the hysterical ravings of Rachel Maddow et al notwithstanding.

    Meanwhile, the Democrats focused on the longshot of toppling Trump’s political empire, did nothing to address the plight of the working class in the US. The Democrats worked hand in glove with their co-conspirators in the Republican Party to continue the tax cuts for the greedy rich, expand the eternal wars for the war profiteers and continue their slobbering over the deep state agencies, e.g. FBI, CIA, NSA.

    The result of their actions will be the reelection of Donald Trump in 2020. The truth that they do not want the working class to know is that the Democratic Party’s leadership would rather see Trump reelected than they would to see Tulsi Gabbard or even the tepid Bernie Sanders win the presidency.

  • Neville

    I wonder if Mueller had investigated his own employment as to the qualifications of Rosenstein to have had the authority to have employed him much like how the Democrats are complaining that Whitaker was not qualified as such to assume the role of AG after Sessions left .
    What is worth remembering is who advised the President to sack Comey & why he was removed as head of the FBI .

  • rgaura

    The multiple crimes of the dnc and obama administration have yet to be investigated. This is really what the mueller investigation was meant to cover up. Stay tuned.

  • Neville

    Let the fun begin , can’t wait for the excuses coming from the Democrats and their Hollywood posse

  • Trump is a crook. There can be no doubt. If Senate Republicans do not call for House impeachment proceedings, they are also crooked, and our country’s democracy will be proven to be nothing but a corrupted sham. Only immediate actions by the entire Congress can start to change this assessment for the better. Call you Senators and demand impeachment of the President and his most active supporters in Congress, especially Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Vice President Pence.

  • This is a irrelevant post that merely deflects from the real corruption of the GOP and the rump administration. You are yet another example of the depths of corruption that has overtaken this nation’s democratic processes. You and your opinions are yet another part of the problem.